TAMPA — The goal will go down as one of the greatest in Tampa Bay Lightning history, for its timing, importance, degree of difficulty and oh-wow-did-you-see-that magic for the 17,166 fans at Amalie Arena on Wednesday, especially if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup.
When Blake Coleman dove and batted in a pass from Barclay Goodrow at 19:58 of the second period, it turned Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final and stood up as the winner in a 3-1 victory for the Lightning against the Montreal Canadiens.
The best-of-7 series could have been tied, maybe should have been. Instead, Tampa Bay leads 2-0 entering Game 3 at Bell Centre in Montreal on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“It’s one of those where the announcer says, ‘You’ll see that on ‘SportsCenter’ tonight,” coach Jon Cooper said.
Yeah, and you’ll see it on highlights for years to come too.
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The game was tied 1-1, and the Lightning were reeling as the clock counted down in the second. They were being outshot 29-12, including 16-6 in the period.
Then Canadiens captain Shea Weber took a pass in the Montreal zone with about 10 seconds left and threw the puck up the right-wing boards for center Phillip Danault.
Coleman hit Danault in the neutral zone and separated him from the puck with about six seconds left, and Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh tapped it ahead. It glanced off the blade of Danault’s stick and into the middle of the ice.
“Those guys do a great job of staying in structure and disrupting in the neutral zone, and it allowed us to turn it over, and tried to get it up into their hands right away,” McDonagh said. “Didn’t know if there was enough time on the clock.”
With one hand on his stick, Goodrow chipped the puck past Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot at the Montreal blue line as Chiarot lunged at it with his stick. Suddenly, Goodrow had the puck behind Chiarot on the right wing in the offensive zone, not far from the Tampa Bay bench. There were less than four seconds left.
“I knew time was tight,” Goodrow said. “I could hear our bench yelling, ‘Shoot!'”
Goalie Carey Price seemed to be expecting Goodrow to shoot, out aggressively to his left to cut down the angle.
Except Goodrow didn’t shoot.
While Weber skated toward Goodrow, Coleman broke down the left wing with Danault coming back hard.
“I saw Blake drive the net, so figured if I could maybe get it over to him, it probably had a better chance of going in than me trying to shoot from where I was,” Goodrow said. “So I went for it, and luckily we had enough time.”
Goodrow backhanded the puck past Weber’s outstretched stick from right to left across the slot. Coleman was maybe a half-step ahead of Danault.
Together, Coleman and Danualt dove with their sticks outstretched. Somehow, Coleman got his blade on the puck; Danault didn’t. As Price slid across to his right, the puck flew over his right pad, past his blocker and into the net.
“I mean, just kind of a reflex, really,” Coleman said. “I knew that they had a backchecker there, and I just tried to beat him to the puck. I don’t think anybody’s planning to dive anywhere on the ice. But in that moment, it was all we had, and I mean, ‘Goody’ couldn’t have put it in a better spot.”
Just like that, the Lightning led 2-1. The clock initially said 0.3 seconds remained in the second, but it was adjusted to 1.1 seconds for the final face-off of the period.
It brought to mind a goal Coleman scored in a 4-3 victory against the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round last season, when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
“In my head, I’m like, ‘Did he just do that again?’ ” Cooper said. “I know [they’re] a little bit different scenarios, but it was remarkably similar. Just the timing was epic.”
It ranks right up there with other great goals in Lightning history.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal 6:34 into overtime to defeat the Dallas Stars 5-4 in Game 4 of the Cup Final last season, giving Tampa Bay a 3-1 series lead. The Lightning went on to win the series in six games. Coleman scored the final goal in a 2-0 victory in Game 6.
In the Cup Final in 2004, the Lightning were a goal from losing the series at the Calgary Flames in Game 6, but Martin St. Louis scored 33 seconds into double overtime to force Game 7 in Tampa. Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice in a 2-1 win here in Game 7 to give Tampa Bay its first championship.
These are the moments that live forever, especially if part of a championship run.
“Anything that happens in the Stanley Cup Final is going to be pretty memorable for you,” Coleman said, “so this one’s definitely up there.”